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Theresea Elder [2], 2001 May 9

Identifier: OH-EL0055

Scope and Contents

Thereasea Elder recounts her and her family's experiences living in Charlotte throughout the twentieth century, as well as her forty-five years as a nurse. Growing up in a segregated Charlotte, she describes life in the close-knit African American community and details the central role of the church and the focus on education within the community. Ms. Elder's medical career began at the white only Charlotte Memorial Hospital, and after earning her nursing degree she went to work at Good Samaritan Hospital, Charlotte's only medical facility for African Americans. She explains the disparities between the two and recounts the difficulties Good Samaritan's staff faced due to the scarcity of resources. Joining the Mecklenburg County Health Department as a public health nurse in 1962, Ms. Elder was part of the pilot program in the 1960s to integrate Charlotte's community health program. This led to her experiences working in the Paw Creek area, an economically disadvantaged white community. Describing the region as 'Klan country', she recounts the racism she faced from residents and how ultimately she and her fellow nurses were able to make the program a success, leading to the full integration of the health department. Ms. Elder discusses the integration of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system from the perspective of a parent whose two sons were bused to a formerly all-white school. She discusses her views on the limited success of integration and the current state of race relations in Charlotte, with particular attention to the role housing policy could have played in producing a more fully integrated Charlotte with improved health and educational outcomes for disadvantaged Charlotteans of all races.


  • Creation: 2001 May 9

Conditions Governing Access

All 15 interviews in the collection are available in the digital repository. Original audiovisual material is closed to patron use.

Biographical Note

Thereasea Elder was a 73-year-old woman at the time of interview, which took place in her home in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was born in Charlotte on September 27, 1927. She was educated at Johnson C. Smith University, Lincoln Hospital (Durham, North Carolina) School of Nursing, Livingstone College, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and was employed as a nurse.


124 Minutes

Language of Materials


Repository Details

Part of the Oral Histories, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

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